Sunday, August 17, 2014

#175 August 17, 2014- Back to School

Public Education-
Challenges and Opportunities . . .
With the start of the school year fast approaching it is time for educators, families and students to begin preparing for another year of teaching and learning.  Educators in Wisconsin find themselves pulled between different aspects of the educational enterprise.  At its most basic level we are preparing for this year just like we would any other.  There are classrooms to set up, curriculum to prepare and new students, families and colleagues to meet.  Despite all the upheaval and the many changes in the educational landscape, there is a certain stability and reassuring quality about the start of a school year.  New school supplies, new material to learn/teach and a chance for a fresh start all provide hope and opportunity. 

At the same time, we can't forget the many challenges and conflict that surround our public schools, public educators and the students we serve.  While many prepare to make this a successful school year, we are still seeing the movement to privatize public education exercise its considerable political clout.  We are also seeing and feeling the impact of the policy battles that have been ongoing for the past few years.  All of these "reform" efforts put pressure on educators and impact students, rarely in a positive way.

Unfortunately, we see too much fighting for the wrong reasons about the wrong issues.  The attacks on public educators are one clear example of this phenomena.  The movement to attack teacher "tenure" has taken off and is yet another instance of the use of "common sense" and righteous outrage used for political and economic advantage.  Educators in America's public schools are held accountable in many ways and we don't have unlimited, universal protections once we have worked beyond our probationary periods.  The misconceptions around "just cause" and other legal protections that educators enjoy provide fodder for those who would bash educators and replace qualified professionals with the equivalent of "educational temp workers."  These less experienced, minimally trained employees are cheaper and less vocal in their critiques of new policies that serve to increase the profitability of education and reduce the quality of instruction for many students (especially minority students and students of poverty).      

David Boies, who helped lead the legal charge that overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban and represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore is becoming chairman of the Partnership for…|By Motoko Rich

Hosts of "The View" caused a stir in the education world this week after…

The conflicts over the Common Core Standards are continuing and will escalate in the near future.  Make no mistake, standards are necessary and we need to have a conversation around what our students should know and how to assess their progress.  Yet, the political battles around the standards are not benefiting students, but are lining the pockets of educational profiteers and shifting the balance of power away from classrooms and into legislatures and boardrooms.  All of the conflict has created a volatile climate that has impacted educators' abilities to prepare for, teach and assess students.

Our daily afternoon roundup of the best stuff on and beyond.|By Lee Enterprises
Slekar slams officials for making a political tactic out of the change in education...|By Lee Enterprises

We need to have a discussion about the standards, but that conversation should be lead by classroom educators, not politicians or businesspeople.  We can't forget that anything that impacts public education will have a significant effect on our most at-risk populations.  Decisions about education shouldn't be made for profit, or by people who don't work on a daily basis with students.  

The corporate under-written Common Core standards and tests are at best a...

In an excerpt from her book Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch reveals the individuals and corporations behind education reform movement.

If we look at the standards carefully and craft standards that meet the needs of our students then we will see more successful outcomes for everyone.  Simply increasing "rigor" or making assessments more difficult will not make our students smarter, increase the engagement of students or educators, or provide an environment that produces productive, positive citizens.  The current movement to make public schools more accountable and more "rigorous" has failed to close Achievement Gaps and has created inequities that harm many students and communities.   

Since the beginning of this year, many legislators and critics have dubbed Common Core "developmentally inappropriate." They argue that the new Math and|By Reema Khrais

When defenders of the Common Core say these standards are tools that…

An examination of students’ transition to high school shows too many are not…|By Lee Enterprises

The end results of these conflicts are damaging to our society as a whole.  To assume that our schools can fix all of the problems we face, while at the same time catering to the needs of special interest groups is unrealistic at best.  We have always had our struggles around education, but we also have seen great successes emerge from our schools.  Creating a positive climate around our public schools will serve to build community, increase student engagement and move our society in a socially just direction.   

By next fall, New Orleans will have only five public schools—those operated by...

Union president Mike Lipp says teachers are apprehensive over new evaluations of their work...|By Lee Enterprises

School officials say a variety of circumstances led to the unusually large number...|By Lee Enterprises

At the same time we face many struggles around public education, there is also reason for hope.  Educators are organizing, becoming more aware and involved and working to control the pathways that we take in educating our students.  It is only through a joint, collaborative effort that we will be able to change the current course of public education, but together we can make that happen.   
The Power of Teacher CollaborationBy Lily JonesJuly 18, 2014 12:20 pmTeaching is simultaneously one of the hardest and one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. We often say that students make it worth it, but there’s something else that can make or break your happiness as a teacher: your colleag…

Tonight, WISN-TV reported that Milwaukee Public School enrollment was up...
The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . Wisconsinites have an opportunity to make a strong political, social and economic statement this November.  While we know there are many obstacles it is up to us to turn out, vote, and earn the government we need to move us forward.      

Voters headed to the polls Tuesday to vote on a number of local election races. Check back after 8 p.m. for live results feeds.

The Post's Chris Cillizza called the Wisconsin governor's race a possible...|By Lee Enterprises

Conservatives’ traditional-values script is being used against them as...|By John Harwood

John Dickerson: Why Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker risked criticism from the right to attack his Democratic opponent

His Democratic opponent is running the right race.

The Bad . . . One of the barriers in the way of a successful November election is the confusion and apprehension caused by the Voter ID law and subsequent Supreme Court decision.

Voter impersonation is a dumb way to steal an election, which is why it rarely...
How low can the Wisconsin Supreme Court go? It's a serious limbo competition. But the court's voter ID decision two weeks ago is right down there.
Another issue is the amount of money that will be spent to influence the election. 

A data visualization detailing Scott Walker and Mary Burke's campaign...

There are many issues that are of importance in the November election, but the economic ones will be among the most important to voters and will have the greatest effect on the outcome.  The problem is that the economic "facts" are more difficult to comprehend and easier to "spin" than one might imagine.  Depending on who you listen to, and what their political goals are, we are either in a recovery, or headed towards another recession.  The simple reality is that many Wisconsinites are not seeing the benefits of any recovery and this happens for many reasons.  

The U.S. is still producing around $800 billion a year less in goods and...|By Neil Irwin

A new report for the U.S. Conference of Mayors shows that low-paying hospitality...|By Peter Coy

Organized labor and worker's rights are topics that will stir up a great deal of controversy in the next few months.  This is unfortunate, the rights of workers to organize is something that has historically benefitted not only workers, but the economy in general.  How we go about defending the rights and privileges of workers is very important. 

The latest labor reform proposal to make unionizing a civil right sounds helpful,...|By Barry Eidlin

Labor unions in Wisconsin will have their day in the sun again, according to Joy...

We also need to remember that how we spend our money influences more than just our own individual financial situation.

Borders filed for Bankruptcy. But before they did, this Chicago store had a...

The Ugly . . . The issues around the unrest in Ferguson can't be ignored, but are not easily explained or understood.  As a society we need to put issues of race, equity and social justice at the forefront of our dialog around making our communities safe for all citizens.  As our political, social and economic divisions widen, hatred and fear increase.  This trend only builds more and more tension between different groups in our society.

As I noted yesterday, I can't help but to compare law enforcement's reaction to...

Fancy weapons, 9/11 and fear of crime turned local forces into small armies.

Racial tension is a long standing problem in our society, but the divisions and fear go beyond race.  We can find many examples in our history of conflicts that have erupted between many different groups. 

Here’s a bit of history that you probably never learned in school.|By Brandon Weber

As with any societal problem, the solution lies in the common citizens and our responses to events and attitudes.   
Dorothy Brown: Power structure dominated by whites in town that is 68% black. Those who sat by silently after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out|By Dorothy A. Brown
Michael Johnson of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County is slated to bring...|By Lee Enterprises

Chaos broke out in the streets of Ferguson on Friday night, the same day that police announced the name of the officer who killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown and released footage appearing to show Brown stealing cigarettes from...

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